Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Eat the place you're in

Valdo had a bereavement visit to make this morning. The man he went to see in the hospital at Orbe died yesterday. The funeral is Friday again cutting into his holiday, but he promises to take Monday off in lieu, so I just quietly lazed around. Slowly the low lying mist evaporated, leaving us with clear skies and sunshine. Valdo returned for lunch before we went out and walked for a couple of hours on the Col des Aiguilles, directly above Baulmes. A sizeable area of this steep forested mountainside belongs to the commune. Up at 1,300 metres the local ski club has its own cabane, and a 500 metre remontée méchanique, which at the moment looks sadly folorn, and useless standing on steep grassy slopes with only sporadic patches of snow. The wind blew, and although it was fairly warm, around 10 degrees, it chilled us, as we fought against it.

Over a lunch of sprouts, spuds and an excellent pork saucisson, local, hand made, pure ground ham, no additives of any kind, I learned about its provenance. Baulmes, village of a thousand souls has its own central heating system. There is a communal wood fuelled furnace that supplies water for domestic consumption, washing and heating. The Cure is the last house in the village that can be reached by the pipe network and pumps, and it was some time before the état de Vaud which (being an established reformed church) owns the property, decided to buy in to the service, connect up to the supply and disconnect the installed oil fired system. When it finally happened the Pastor was left with several hundred litres of mazout, for which he no longer has use. Eventually he found a purchaser, wanting to use the oil to heat his engineering workshop. A deal was struck, the oil was sold and transferred to its new home. "I think of the Pastor every time I light up the heater in my workshop." he declared. And in appreciation of the deal, Valdo and Ann Lise received a brace of these large saucisson, made apparently chez lui, by the engineer's cousin. This, plus a glass of Marc Bovet's fine Pinot Noir d'Allaman, to go with local cheese from the village fromagerie for supper. As well as being a viticulteur, Marc is also a diacre of the église reformée, serving the côte vaudoise of Lac Léman. I love these personal touches that characterise the rather understated rural parish life of the Swiss reformed church.

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